Thatched roof guide – the historic craft making a comeback

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A thatched extortion is simply a uncommon and treasured plan feature, and is simply a overmuch romanticized agrarian idyll.

Thatch has been utilized arsenic a extortion covering for millennia, and was the ascendant worldly crossed overmuch of the UK and Europe up to the precocious 19th century. A ample fig of charming thatched properties stay today, and for fans of cocoa container cottages, they marque up immoderate of the world's champion homes.

The worldly was besides utilized by aboriginal settlers successful the United States, though the signifier mostly diminished implicit the pursuing centuries.

While contiguous thatched roofs are not a communal show successful the US, they bash beryllium crossed the country. Indeed, the trade is believed to beryllium increasing successful popularity for caller homes, eco houses and garden country ideas owed to the existent eco location improvements inclination towards utilizing much earthy materials.

Types of thatched roof 

There are a fig of antithetic types of thatched roof, but they alteration depending connected the section vernacular.

Straw has been utilized to thatch for centuries, though alternatives recovered crossed the continents see h2o reed, heather, bracken, bulrush, marram grass, flax – and adjacent wood chips and murphy stems!

Here are immoderate of the main types:

Long straw roofs look shaggy – not cropped similar the reed types – and their eaves person hazel stitches.Water reed roofs are accepted successful wetland areas. The eaves mostly overhang little than with straw roofs and surfaces look uniform. Ridges whitethorn beryllium of sedge.Combed wheat reed is really straw laid similar h2o reed. Eaves are not dressed, but chopped (so stalks person angled ends). 

Storybook thatched extortion   location  successful  the pacific northwest metropolis  of Ferndale, Washington, USA

(Image credit: Dawn Evans / Alamy Stock Photo)

How bash you repair a thatched roof?

A thatched extortion ridge volition request renewing respective times successful betwixt rethatching of the main coat, and is typically required each 10-15 years. 

It besides gives the accidental to portion thatch astir chimneys to uncover masonry defects that correspond a occurrence risk. All junctions, including flashings and mortar fillets, indispensable beryllium near watertight.

Localized areas of decay, specified arsenic channels worn wherever rainwater runoff concentrates, whitethorn beryllium repaired with caller thatch, on with harm caused by wind, birds oregon tiny animals. This tin prolong the beingness of thatched roofs and debar much costly replacement. 

Netting whitethorn beryllium utilized wherever thatch is prone to vertebrate and carnal damage. Moss, lichen and fungi bash not person to beryllium removed, however.

How agelong does a thatch extortion last?

A straw oregon h2o reed thatched extortion whitethorn past for astatine slightest 30 years but volition yet request rethatching erstwhile the fixings are adjacent to the aboveground and unfastened to h2o ingress. 

Thatched cottage with aged  obstruction   and cottage plot  and champion  listed location  victor  successful  Period Living location  of the twelvemonth  awards 2021

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

How to rethatch a roof

Rethatching of h2o reed usually entails stripping the existing extortion backmost to the timbers. With straw, however, a caller aboveground overgarment is usually fixed – oregon ‘sparred’ – implicit existing basal coats, taking attraction to debar a build-up of excessive thicknesses of thatch. 

It is important not to portion roofs wherever a uncommon medieval smoke-blackened thatched extortion survives. Modern screw fixings are little damaging to past timberwork than metallic crooks.

Consult an architect, surveyor oregon technologist implicit immoderate structural concerns earlier enactment starts.

Select a reputable thatcher moving successful the section contented who does not automatically regenerate agelong straw with reed.

Regional variations successful thatching materials and styles person evolved implicit the centuries, truthful it is captious to perpetuate these, not lone to clasp section diverseness but to debar problems with durability.

Problems with thatched roofs

One of the main problems with owning a thatched extortion is that determination are occasional shortages of materials, usually owed to a mediocre harvest. In specified times, see timely, localized repair alternatively than implicit rethatching to widen the beingness of a extortion by respective years. 

Roofs with much extended deterioration tin beryllium protected utilizing a bladed overgarment of combed wheat reed oregon agelong straw with aboveground fixings (known arsenic a ‘rick coat’). While a bladed rick overgarment mightiness past astir 3 years, a thicker overgarment whitethorn past up to ten.

A flush ridge mightiness beryllium considered alternatively than a raised artifact ridge. Flush ridges necessitate little material, past arsenic agelong arsenic artifact ridges and were commonly the accepted ridge type.

Are thatched roofs a occurrence risk?

The astir communal origin of thatch fires is inappropriate installation, oregon irresponsible usage of wood-burning stoves. 

Such is the level of risk, determination is present a inclination towards removing wood-burning stoves from thatched cottages and reinstating inglenook-type unfastened fires. The beingness of a wood-burning stove needs to beryllium declared erstwhile seeking gathering security to debar invalidating immoderate claims.

Other fires successful thatch are caused by unsuitable substance oregon kindling, the blocking of flues by birds’ nests, and the ignition of tarry deposits owed to inadequate cleaning of flues, chimneys, spark arrestors oregon vertebrate guards.

Deep multi-layered thatch increases occurrence hazard by hiding defective chimney stacks and reducing the tallness of the stack supra the extortion surface. 

This provides a shorter region for embers exiting the apical of the stack to autumn earlier reaching the thatch. 

Options see raising the tallness of the stack oregon reducing excessive thicknesses of thatch (with listed gathering consent, wherever required).